U.S. Navy Commissions the Second Littoral Combat Ship

The U.S. Navy has commissioned the second littoral combat ship (LCS-2) USS Independence - the first military vessel to employ the low resistance trimaran hull form. Independence will conduct further testing and evaluation before eventually heading toward its homeport in San Diego. The first littoral combat ship USS Freedom (LCS-1) is currently readying for her maiden deployment, accelerated approximately two years. The Navy expects to learn key operational lessons about Freedom in a deployment setting, and to integrate those lessons into the larger LCS fleet, projected to eventually reach 55 ships. Construction is already underway on Austal’s second US Navy LCS, “Coronado” which is expected to be delivered in 2012. During the current fiscal year 2010, the US Navy intends to award a contract for up to ten LCS, with two ships in fiscal 2010 and options through fiscal 2014.


Adm. Gary Roughead, Chief of Naval Operations said the LCS will have a central role in 'protecting critical transportation routes and chokepoints in the regional and global supply chain". According to Vice Adm. D.C. Curtis, Commander, U.S. Naval Surface Forces, the LCS will complement the strengths of larger warships. LCS will be a deterrent of green and brown water threats; the flexibility, versatility, and smart design of Independence make it well suited for joint operations. Similar to the Freedom, USS Independence is manned by two rotational crews, "Blue" and "Gold," of 40 Sailors each. These crews are further augmented by detachment specialists for each of the mission modules.

Independence is 127 m (419-foot) long vessel constructed of aluminium, with a displacement of 2,800 metric tons. It is capable of speeds in excess of 45 knots, and can operate in water less than 20 feet deep. Propelled by four water jets in addition to two diesel and two gas turbine engines it has endurance to travel 4,300 miles at 18 knots. The Independence is fitted with three weapon zones, capacity for any two mission packages simultaneously, and a flight deck larger than any other surface combatant other than aircraft carriers. It can be outfitted with reconfigurable payloads (Mission Packages) which can be changed quickly to support mine countermeasure, anti-submarine and surface warfare missions. The LCS will introduce unmanned vehicles as part of those mission packages – rotary-wing aerial system (MQ-8B Firescout), surface and sub-surface.

According to the ship builder Austal, the performance benefits of the vessel’s trimaran hullform has been proven by the 127 m' “Benchijigua Express” which has been in commercial service in Spain since 2005. The hullform is also used for Austal’s next generation 102 m' trimaran ferry which was recently launched in Western Australia.

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